Stages of the College Experience

Graduates with diplomas.

College is an incredibly exciting time of life, one that is full of experiences and lessons that will stay with you for the rest of your life. However, although most people have extreme variations on their college lives, there are plenty of similarities that universally persist across the world of secondary education. The first of these similarities is that everyone who enters college is likely going to be wildly unprepared for all the rest that follow. To assist in this new journey that a student is about to enter, we’ve decided to break down several key aspects in the timeline of college life. Here are several of the stages of the college experience…

College hunting

The first step in living the college experience is actually getting to college. For most high school students, this begins with finding places that you’d like to go and applying to their programs. Although there have been strides in simplifying this experience, over the years, it can still be a very stressful and confusing experience, due to the variations that exist in applications of various colleges. For some useful tips about applying to college, check out this useful article here.

Freshmen experience

When kids actually get to college, it marks a very big jump in their life. There’s a good chance that most kids have never actually lived alone, or had to be very independent, until this moment. While there is a great deal of growth that comes with this opportunity, there are also many people who struggle with the freedom that comes, as well. Many college freshmen tend to party a little too hard, and study a little too little. Because of this, there is a notable trend for drug issues to arise among college students, as well as excessive binge drinking. However, despite these troubling issues, a college culture built around sobriety is starting to emerge in the United States, as outlined here. Eventually, though, most students will get over this initial freshmen binge, and begin to see what really matters in their education.

girl student preparing for exams in bed. On the bed of the book and a laptop. She writes in a notebook.

Buckling down on your work

After the initial craze of college freshmen life begins to cool down, you can get to the meat and potatoes of why you are actually in college. The party experience is usually followed by a time when you start to actually get into the work that you are doing, more so than you did in your high school years. This is where you learn to function at a higher level, as an adult, while also expanding your mental horizons and learning to think out of the box. During this time, you’ll probably also get a better idea of what exactly you want to do with your life, and what you want your major to be. However, don’t feel too rushed, as the entirety of college is a great time to explore what you want the meaning of the rest of your life to be.

Large group of friends at a party get together house drinking beer chatting storytelling gossiping

Making real, lifelong friendships

Although some people remain good friends with people they knew in high school, the vast majority of young adult friendships are born in college. People begin to get a far better idea of who they actually are in these years, and the experience of being around tons of other inquisitive minds presents a great opportunity to make friends. The period of college where you actually start to make these lasting friendships is usually after you have spent a good deal of time learning how to work efficiently and actually have grown as a student. Although you may be friends with the people you met on your first day, this is where the friendship deepens into something lasting and powerful.

Thesis

After a few years of this college thing, most students feel like they have school down to a science. However, thesis is where everything begins to fall apart. At this point in your life, thesis will probably be the most amount of advanced work and critical thinking that you’ve had to put towards anything. The sleepless nights and endless cups of coffee are going to be a going to be trademarks of this stage in college, as you try to make everything that you’ve learned come together in a meaningful way that illustrates you are ready for the “real world.”

Graduating
Did we say “real world”? Well, after your thesis, this is what you have to look forward to. This prospect is terrifying for many students. After years of education and countless loans taken out, will you be able to enter a job doing something you love, as well as be able to financially support yourself? Like college, life outside of it is a journey that is different for everyone. However, just like college, it is made of stages that will change as you continue to learn and grow. Graduating will be a bittersweet experience, but it’s one that will be sure to mark the end of an experience that has changed your life, forever.

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